Beowulf critical essay heroism

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Beowulf critical essay heroism

Beowulf Old English poem, circa eighth century. See also Beowulf Poetry Criticism. Hailed as the first major poem in English literature, Beowulf relates the adventures of its Scandinavian hero, at the same time presenting a detailed description of the life and mood of the age during which it was written.

Modern critics continue to debate such issues, focusing on the Christian and pagan elements of the poem, its concern with heroic values, and its formulaic structure. Textual History The original Beowulf manuscript dates from toand is included in a volume containing a total of five works in Old English.

Basing this view on historical, linguistic, and stylistic evidence, many critics agree that the poem was composed in the eighth, or perhaps the ninth century, with the extant manuscript representing a later version of the poem.

It has also been suggested that a written version may predate the eighth-century poem, with a possible composition date of toand that an oral version of the poem may have been composed even earlier.

Beowulf critical essay heroism

Inafter joining the manuscript collection of Sir Robert Cotton, the Beowulf manuscript was damaged in a fire. A gradual deterioration of letters and words began, although it was stemmed in the nineteenth century.

These transcriptions served as the basis of the first printed edition of Beowulf and are incorporated in modern versions of the poem. Plot and Major Characters Although the narrative of Beowulf is not linear and contains long digressions concerning Geatish and Danish history, the plot of the poem is easily summarized.

Along with his men, Beowulf travels by sea to Denmark in order to rid the land of the dangerous beast Grendel.

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He then returns to the court of King Hygelac, goes to war with the Geats, and is eventually made king. Having served fifty years as the Geatish ruler, Beowulf defends the Geats from the attacks of a firedrake. Abandoned by his men, Beowulf nevertheless pursues the dragon, finally killing it with the help of his loyal retainer, Wiglaf.

His people raise a funeral pyre, and the poem ends with the praising of the hero. Major Themes Scholars have identified numerous themes in Beowulf, many related to the portrayal of the Germanic comitatus relationship, a code of social behavior stressing the reciprocity enjoyed between a lord and his thanes.

In return for protection provided by the lord, the thanes owe service and loyalty. Such themes as order versus chaos and reward and revenge are dramatized through the depiction of this relationship.

Other thematic concerns include the role of women in kinship bonds, the use of treasure as a societal bond, the function of the narrator in poem, the nature of heroism and social responsibility, and the purpose of the quest motif.

Critical Reception A number of questions surrounding the composition of Beowulf still inspire modern critical debate. Baum insists that the evidence suggests a poem composed for the enjoyment of its author, with the expectation that others might also take pleasure in it.

Kiernan makes this argument, citing historical and linguistic evidence for his assertion that both the poem and the manuscript were created in the early eleventh century. Some critics maintain that the original poem was an oral composition, while others believe that it made its first appearance in written form.

Renoir stresses that this familiarity does not necessarily indicate that the poem was composed orally. Ogilvy similarly comments that it is improbable that Beowulf—as a whole, or even in smaller units—was composed orally.

Evans, on the other hand, asserts that an oral form dating from to of the poem preceded a written version. The original pagan poem was extensively modified, Evans argues, by Christian oral poets sometime between and in order to create a work better suited to a Christian audience.

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Like Evans, many critics have explored the Christian aspects of the poem, particularly the juxtaposition of Christian and pagan elements.

Benson notes that although some critics appear certain that Beowulf is the work of a Christian author, rather than a pagan work later modified by a Christian scribe, the question is far from settled.

The Christian Englishmen of the time, assures Benson, viewed the Germanic pagan with interest, and the sympathetic treatment of the pagan values in Beowulf provides a framework that allowed the Christian to admire the pagan.

Greenfield feels that Beowulf and his world are presented as flawed in an effort to humanize them and elicit a more emotional response from the audience. Goldsmith takes a different approach in explaining the coexistence of Christian and pagan symbols in the poem, contending that the poet was cognizant of the ambivalence of the symbolism used, especially Heorot and the treasure.

Leyerle marshals ample evidence to demonstrate that interlace designs had stylistic and structural literary parallels in England, and argues that the function of various episodes in Beowulf becomes apparent only when the likelihood of analogous design is accepted.

The themes of the poem, argues Leyerle, are threaded together to form an intricate interlace that cannot be undone without losing the design of the whole poem.Beowulf at that time notice as a hero and was name to take over the throne to be the king.

Everything was fine for years, in anticipation of an outsider stole the gold dragon from the dragon's cave. The dragon after that ruined Beowulf's kingdom. In his critical essay, “Appositive Style and the Theme of Beowulf” Fred C. Robinson states: For all the Beowulf poet says, we are left with heroes who are pathetic in their heathenism while.

+ free ebooks online. Did you know that you can help us produce ebooks by proof-reading just one page a day? Go to: Distributed Proofreaders. Apr 10,  · 4. Hero Essay Papers: True Hero - Words. Hero Lives “Forever” “You can die a hero or live long enough to become the villain” this quote is agreeable because it is the core message throughout the movie “Dark Knight”.

[In the essay below, Huppé asserts that the author of Beowulf demonstrates by antithesis the concept of the Christian hero and shows how Beowulf's lack of Christianity reveals the emptiness of his heroic ideals.] the contrapuntal narrative method of Beowulf demands close attention to the interweaving of the threads that make up the story of the hero.

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